Series Production

Michael Eisner and Jeffrey Katzenberg felt that Disney should be the number one name in animation in all media.  Gary Krisel, president of TVA, had pushed for TV animation for years as an aid to Consumer Products. RR was designed for kids but we didnít intentionally dumb anything down. I came from Disney features and we had used that same mentality there. Family entertainment.

 

I was the chief story person on all of my Disney Afternoon shows as well as the creator of those shows, although I worked closely with Jymn Magon on the development of RR.  I wrote the bible and he gave notes.  Every premise went through me and I edited or rewrote the scripts that have my story editor credit.  And I gave notes on all the others.

 

The plan for RR was always 65 shows, and a movie was never planned. When we worked on the series, there was none of the background developed in "To the Rescue".  Thatís often the weakness in many show pitches Ė they spend to much time detailing how the characters got together, but thatís not your show.  Your show is what the characters do now that they are together.

 

If we'd had a second season, it would've been more of the same, ideally at a slower production pace. Again, nothing about the show was planned ahead of time, and many of these shows were written very fast. I co-wrote many, editing act one and two from the writer and writing act three over the weekend.

Some of the team I worked with on the show have died, some have left the business, some I avoid, some Iíve worked with constantly though out my career. A new show or movie about the Rangers (if it were done) should be given a new production team to write the movie for today without stomping on what it was.

The inventions that Gadget and Professor Nimnul came up with were the brain children of Rob LaDuca, the prop artist whose job it was to come up with that stuff. Usually it was about looking for objects that have a similar shape to something you would really use but on a small scale. Like replacing tires with buttons or thread spools or making a plane fuselage out of a bleach bottle.

Additional Thoughts.

RR wasnít cancelled.  Enough episodes were created for syndication. You can argue that there shouldíve been more made but believe me, if Disney thought there was money to be mined, theyíd be doing it.  Most cancelled prime time shows have more fans than the RR do but thatís the nature of the business.

 

Gadget fans are always convinced that Gadget was a break out character that would be super popular if given the chance.  The truth is that Ė if she was a break out character she wouldíve broken out.  She was a great character within the show.  It was the chemistry of the group that let them all shine.

However, there was a change in Disney TV management when they created ďOne Saturday MorningĒ and chased Nick type shows.  Now there are few, if any, execs there that are familiar with the characters of the Disney Afternoon.  The idea of revisiting those characters like WB does with their properties doesnít occur to them.

John Lassiter is more interested in creating new things than resurrecting old.  It would be more likely to come from Consumer ProductsÖ or the fans. Iíve heard that Lassiter wants to stop production of movie sequels unless the original creative team is involved.  Thatís a LOT of money for Disney to turn its back on.  The original Disney Afternoon fans are just getting old enough to have kids.  Maybe itís time for Disney Afternoon DVD movies.  Look what it did for Scooby DooÖ

Fanfic is its own world. You guys focus on different story directions than we did. Itís always great to have fans.  It means there are people who appreciate your work.  There are head scratching aspects to it like any fandom but mostly itís made up of creative, enthusiastic people.

If I could revive CDRR today, would IÖWell, Iíve sort of ďbeen there, done thatĒ but if I hadnít I think I would do much the same but improve the quality of adversaries.  Iíd make more of their small size; things got sloppy where the backgrounds made them too big.  Iíd give more of a sense of animals living on the edge of the human world and the complications it makes for them.  Bigger adventures with more jeopardy to play their personalities against.  Hard to say until you sit down and work out storylines.

 

Would I ever work for Disney again? Who knows.  The projects Iím working on now challenge me in a way that nothing at Disney did and allow for a richer kind of storytelling.  If I returned to Disney, Iíd like to bring something of that to whatever project I have.

And for the comment one person gave, "You are directly responsible for at least two marriages, possibly more. How does that feel?" Oh, I think their parents had more to do with it than me or my staff.  Or the sparkle in his eyes or the flirtatious toss of her hair.  Itís neat that people with common interests get together.

Just as long as they donít name their kid Zipper.

That wraps it up.  Hope I didnít pop too many bubbles.  Keep enjoying them.  You donít need permission from me.  Have fun!
 
--Tad Stones




Tad Stones, on the creative process of inventing the Rangers (paraphrased from Pupspals' interviews and edited by yours truly):

 

Back in the days of early Disney TV animation, Stones had a lot of freedom. He did have lots of problems with pre-production and had to pitch in order to get the idea across, but after that you were fine. Not until now (with his work at Film Roman & on Hellboy) has he had that much freedom.

 

When the creative process on the Rangers started, there was a drawing of a temple made of soda cans that originally got people inspired to do the Rangers and to say, "I wanna do that show!"

"Rescue Rangers" had started out with several characters:


Kit Colby - basically Chip's character & personality.

Monty - always there basically in his form as he appears now in personality.
Gadget - basically the same as now, also always there. Outfit changed a bit but basically the same.
Chameleon - unnamed chameleon character. Was the secretary of the group. "Could do plaid but it hurt." (I wanna say she was kinda nutty but I can't quite remember what he said about her personality)
Chirp Sing Ė Kind of a "Mr. Miagi" type character but loved baseball. Full of wisdom. Could do kung fu with the 8 arms type thing (he started to swing his hands in the stiff handed karate pose) Ke-ya! Ya! (Doesn't appear to have anything to do with the character from "Song of the Night-n-Dale" but I didn't have a chance to specifically ask)
Eagle Eye - a Near-Sighted lookout eagle. (I'm not 100% on the name. I'm pretty sure though)

Stones and Jymn Magon pitched RR to Michael Eisner & Jeffery Katzenberg. They didn't quite see the premise of it. They told Stones that when he created Gizmo Duck (then called RoboDuck) and Bubba Duck for DuckTales they could "see it" by his drawing and character description. But they couldn't see this. It was close, but not quite.

Later into the meeting, they decided to try to save the idea by adding a classic Disney character since DuckTales had been a hit by doing that. Can't do Mickey - he's sacred. Goofy? No. Pluto? Nah... Already did ducks & Donald with DuckTales.... Then Michael Eisner said, "What about Chip & Dale?" They all seemed to like that idea & they fit in with the previous idea. That worked. Jeffrey Katzenberg gave the go ahead, with his "Home Run!" shout. Tad remembered specifically that Jeffery would hold his hands up in the football touchdown pose but yell "Home Run".

Tad defended Eisner's "early creative days". At first Eisner "was a great guy who was creative and got his hands into things." The 2nd half... not so much. He wasn't always all about the financial part...he also mentioned that Eisner had no other influence on the show, save that one important idea.

Then with Chip & Dale being added to the line up (replacing Kit Colby) it was still too many characters. So those we don't recognize from the lineup got dropped.

At this point I said, "Well, you had a couple of episodes for him..." and he said, "Yeah, well, we could when we focused on him (held his hands parallel to each other) specifically,  but otherwise it was difficult.

As the Rangers' series neared its end, the higher ups made some questionable choices. "I was pulled off the series something like 15 episodes from the end so other people could 'save' the series. They rewrote the pilot taking more time than we had to write it originally and maybe two episodes before handing it over other writers who were told to get it done as fast as possible." Ė Indy's Note: this was pulled from his Q&A session but fit better here. Notably, this could explain why some of the later episodes didn't have the same quality as the earlier ones.